Holy Smokes (sorry bad pun). Sitting in the grassy field 15 miles from the nearest asphalt road, this old freight wagon may have been here as early as 1906. It hauled freight for decades traveling the minimum 30 mile round trip to the nearest General Store. Both Rockypoint Wyoming and Biddle Montana were a day trip from this location by horse drawn wagon.
Bulk flour, sugar, salt, cow medical supplies, canned foods, canning supplies, seeds, cloth and every other household good you can imagine. The settlers survived this remote backcountry without electricity until 1956 (I understand). No telephone until 1964. No broadband internet until I built piped it in via Microwave in 2012 where it is distributed to various ranches and a local school 30 miles distant. This place has seen it all in the last 120 years. I’ve been here 20.
Wood exposed to the elements lasts a long time here. Even non treated wood. The generally dry (a few inches a year long on being a desert) environment here preserves many things. Nothing decays quickly I know of ‘petrified animals” (cows mostly) that have died. One is well over a decade old. It seems leather is preserved a long time too. I’ve found old leather shoes in an 80 year old over bank trash pile left from an old homestead.
The mentality then wasn’t to bury non-burnable trash but to throw it over the nearest gully bank. Out of site out of mind. Mostly the early homesteaders didn’t have plastics so only glass and iron are present in the landfill. A few early ‘plastics” mostly antique car parts/pieces are out there in the old dumps. Most of the ranches today are made up of many smaller original homesteads. We have 3 original homesteads on this ranch.
The moon set was still 10 minutes away. As the celestial clock’s gears spin, the earths horizon rises to hide the moon earlier by the clouds. The low atmospheric moisture made the moon to go dimmer till it vanishes into the mist within a few more frames after this one. IT became so hard to see, I gave up working this amazing scene. I am really into that stack of hay bales a mile out on that first far ridge.👁
The Parks Ranch is a historic ranch here in Wyotana which is managed by an association of cattlemen/ranchers in this region. These old buildings are still used structures . But just a small part of a much larger locally owned group of ranchs. Cattle are routinely and actively worked in these corrals. Mostly vaccinations and medical needs as well. You have to run “everybody” through the corral system to give them wormer, a fly dip and some meds. No antibiotics of course. Just required by the gov’t various anti-disease shots. A family lives and works on the ranch as it is an active good sized cattle operation. Genuine cowboys / cowgirls are working down there. Good hands all.
I’ve fought fires on this ground before but a bit further up the ridge. Kept a small ridge of trees from being destroyed with my truck parked pushing a hose all by my little self. I’m not doing that much these days. Younger men get to pull hoses. I drive lolol. It is beautiful country with artesian springs around the original Parks Ranch. Those lakes named after the Parks Girls I understand.
This is a Windmill Wednesday after all and I’ve posted several windmills today. I don’t get a lot of double red rainbows. The last of the timeline I think.
As this storm, a member of a train of storms moving up a squall line just to our east, the precipitation passed over me. Everything was wet. The Smells were tremendous with wet Sage dominating that sense. My visual neurons were firing messages to a receptive brain high on endorphins from the dramatic show unfolding before me. I’m very fortunate to be able to chase these storms. When they come by, I usually drop what I’m doing to run “up on the ridge”. Gaining elevation is the best way to see these big storms. Of course, when you go up, you go into the storm regardless. It’s a way of life going “into the storm”. You know, run to the gunfire..🤘
I’ve said before that red rainbows are rare. This one has a bit of yellow as it is a little earlier in the timeline from others you have seen published by me recently. The red colorcast is the result of no other colors making it past all the dust / moisture / ice / pollution in the air. Those particles collectively limit the rainbows choices on which colors to refract. The rain drops can’t bend Blue if Blue color isn’t there lol.
The second rainbow is as faint as it can be. They all are fainter than the main reflection and the colors (or lack there of) are reversed in order in the second bow. This was such a low light shot that it was hard to do it justice.
This is a Whitetail buck that was going to our water tanks along with the rest of his herd of 6 other bucks. A boys club as it were. By the time I got position on them (light), they were in deep brush with this one being the only one cooperatively posing for me. He wasn’t too worried as he kept on chewing the tasty morsel he had in his mouth. That’s pretty good for this jumpy species. Spring here is a land of plenty with a lot of lush green vegetation. The cellulose equivalent of jet fuel. 😜
Velvet refers to the skin covering the growing stubs of antler bone growth. That covering is rich in blood vessels supplying nutrients to the dividing cells. I believe this a 2 year old based on his body size so he may start looking better by late August. He is still growing.
I haven’t seen that many Mule Deer around the Homestead this spring. It’s starting to make me wonder where they are. There are been a lot of Pronghorn about. I’ve heard when the Whitetail move in, the Mule Deer Pack up and leave. I point out Mule deer are much better hunting / bigger / less skiddish etc. Whitetails running are one of the most beautiful images to witness live. This guy was just hanging out when I wandered by. Even they will get used to me if they keep a schedule by the water tanks.
I think this is one of very few acting photos I have of Killdeer. Performed so much I’ve ignored it photographically lol. They are pretty spooky of humans. Literally living in my yard, nest nearby or on the prairie..
Of course the same injured bird ritual rinses and repeats. I don’t often get one of these performances showing me his red under feathers to get my attention. This is a fun image of the “skit” it is putting on for my benefit. . Getting within a hundred feet of a nest without a big scene occurring is unlikely. I knew where their nest was having run across this Killdeer and mate earlier that week. (early summer).
There is a lot to be said for working out of cars/vehicles. Much better than a regular blinds because vehicles have radios news and tunes. 🤠 The birds don’t care as much for as long. Back to normal behavior shortly if your in a vehicle and park near the nest. We live integrated with all these animals up here. Everyone has their place. These guys seem to be happy where they are whether in my yard or on the prairie. I watch them set up nest (I’ve got egg photos on rocks). They have chicks, (photos of lots of chicks). I follow them all summer through that August gathering season. I might see 30 or 40 of them in a flock at that time. About the time I see them again, I will know that it’s just about spring.
As I get eyebrow close to a lot of wild animals these days. My truck is accepted by many local inhabitants as just another Black Creature grazing on the prairie. It’s a wonderfully appointed mobile blind for me to work the creatures that haunt these prairie highlands and ridge country. Most of the local critters let me move around without changing their natural behavior resultant of my presence.
Animals don’t see much traffic out here. But they are usually aware of your presense. I caught this doe (those are ears not horns) looking back at me while looking the other way at the same time. Not to mention the left ear is strategically pointed my way to listen to the tunes one a Sirius XM channel I’m pretty sure. Good tunes are hard to ignore in the backcountry. But to be able to see behind your head would certainly be an evolutionary advantage. They have a 320 degree width of vision. This is super creature wide vision. Fish eye lens times two lolol.
This one is shedding as you can see a roll on it’s neck and the scruffy look along it’s back. Still early in the summer for this shot. These Pronghorn are quite the dressers when they get in top shape by the end of summer. The Fall outfits are smooth and properly covering for the cold months to come. Now it’s spreading to the wind lol.
We are by trick of geography quite isolated from the surrounding world. It’s 15 miles to the nearest asphalt highway and 70 miles to the nearest stop light. I’d like to think I’m a fairly astute observer of media as we are well connected to the web here……..
There are times up here I feel we are watching the storm in the distance from afar. The expectations, the eventual realization of the reality, finally the lost sense of normalcy are all heavy on my mind. But unlike the storm in the distance, we have many choices that may be made. To turn back usually isn’t an option in any particular timeline we are experiencing. Einstein has his rules after all and we must obey…..🤔
So onward inexorably toward the storm we move with no other option but to make it through. The path can be treacherous, full of pitfalls with negative effects, change, and and a loss of control perceived or otherwise. Adversity brings opportunity now and then. Like walking barefoot down this road.. Does it feel like we are in a river only able to swim to one side or the other? Maybe, but we are still ALL in the same river regardless. 👀
I’ve just had a couple of days of writers block where I didn’t want to write these narratives/pages. I finish images those days. Then this image came by my desktop and kicked me back into retrospective and forward thinking thought at the same time. This image is so metaphorical to the world situation we find ourselves in. Each of us traveling within our own sphere of influence experiencing our own storm conditions. Watching the various issues arisen in our travels appear, only to drop by the wayside mostly occurs in retrospect. The information technology age changing the way we think and act by the second. Changing our expectations. Quickens the pace they do. Driving a herd to a degree. Some of these issues may not drop along the way…. Don’t give up so freely what others have given all for is my advise.
The roads may all be different, the storms that effect us will move on to another with time. Properly considering your journey is paramount in it’s ultimate success.
This adult female “Corriente” Breed is pulling nursery duty with two other angus calves that are in with her. We have a few white face “Angus” hanging out with a few “Corriente” this year and these were their calves. The calves mothers were nearby. This “Corriente” mother is still pregnant as my Horned gals are on a late June birth schedule. Very soon… I’ve owned this cow “Salt” for the last 5 years. (or she has just hung around and let me stay here too). She has given me a salt and pepper calf each year. This might be her last year as she is getting a little old for breeding much longer.
The “Corriente” breed originate from Spain/southern Europe. Imported into the America’s in 1493 reportedly by Spanish Settlers. I call them longhorns but some have said “they are not longhorns”. As I understand it, the Texas Longhorns were developed from this old stock but I could be wrong. Their most impressive characteristic to me is they are extremely hardy and take very little care. We do run them through the state required vaccinations, worming etc obviously. Other than that, there isn’t much to do for them except find homes for the calves from the previous year.
They are often used in the rodeo ring to rope as calves and to practice practical cowboy skills on around the ranch. Many large ranches have a few “Corriente” calves around just to practice on. “Training up” your “hands” on a ranch is a good “slow time” activity. The HUGE barn on this ranch was built for this. It still could be an indoor calf roping arena if I got all my crap out of it lol. There is still lot of the old memorabilia associated with those calf roping events held back in the 1970’s on the walls of that foot ball field sized building.
The Annual Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Synchronized Fence Jumping competition (BDRSFJC) is well under way. Last fall we had the tri-outs for the follow up event in the spring. This spring event is much larger usually and involves more animal diversity than the late fall meet. I give the deer in the foreground a 9.5 for form. 9.2 for jumping together…
This group doesn’t quite have the synchronize part figured out yet and doubtfully will make the final cut. Boy are these guys shedding with tuffs of hair falling off each one. Shaggy to say the least. Perfectly healthy.
BDRSFJC is an all “Ungulate” (google the last term) event. I expect some Whitetail to try out but their team failed to show up YET AGAIN !!!. Some creatures just can’t keep to a schedule. This is the second time this year they Whitetails have bailed from a major try out. Now the Pronghorns don’t even like jumping over fences. I read where they can jump 14 feet high but my memory fails sometimes, that might be wrong. 👅
Back to my normal (ish) programming:
I have around 100 good images of deer jumping over fences. This MIGHT be the only triple deer in the air I have in my portfolio. I don’t recall clicking on another with 3 in the air at the same time. I do have a couple of double captures.
I’m considering putting in a synchronized swim tryout down by the lake. We’ll see if those whitetail show up for that.. 😜📸
Salt is the name of this Corriente’ Mother Cow. Still a bun in the oven due early June.. Walking around apparently with this “Right Turn Clyde” sign on her head. Must be tricky for all the low bridges around here..😜👀 We have a few Corriente’s breed around for their uniqueness and ease of care. You don’t have to do too much for them. They get run through vet checks and vaccinations with all the angus as necessary and are not trouble at all. Well there is the tendency to go where they want to go to. Fences really aren’t much of a problem for them. They usually get those horns involved and somehow work their way through. They CAN wander a little.
Why Longhorns? We raise them of course to sell to local ranches that like to lasso the calves as that is an active sport here in cowboy country because you can make some money off the easy to handle beasts.. (Actually it’s just a better arrangement. A lot of places raise their own. Bulls are problematic from them though as they tend to just walk through fences and try to breed with your neighbors angus herd…. Not good lol. Like most Cowboy sports… Roping is a sport that has a real life application as cowboys often have to rope cattle from horseback locally. I’m sure pretty much daily within a 20 mile circle from this ranch. This is still old west cattle country in many ways.
Textures are revealed within the grain of the 80+ year old weathered wood. The Old Buck wagon is holding a place of honor (in his mind) a mile out from our homestead in our “boneyard”. It shares residence there with a host of other ranch utilitarian items deemed too important a resource to bury. The custom of the early days of pioneering in this country was typically to toss broken / un-fixable things into a nearby gully and call it good. Cracked cast iron with a mix of glass bottles in the mix. Some of the latter I do find intact from a known 1930’s homestead long since gone.
I’ve found abandoned two track roads leading to collapsed dug out houses in this country. Many have come before us in this high harsh ridge line environment. Life is easier down in the river valleys. Land was relatively free far from the electric grid and telephone in this remote high ground in the backcountry of Wyotana. Wagons as this were a critical technology that provided a lifeline to civilization. Providing ultimately all the products broken and discarded into the aforementioned nearby gully.
These wheels turned until they didn’t. Existing parked here a decade of decades. Now cattle rub against it, eventually breaking each and every piece of this historic relic. Living on a ranch in a semi-arid “steppe” environment preserves wood. Living with cattle on the ranch, destroys wood. The steel fittings last on. Wood to dust, steel to rust is the way of things.
Ranchers work hard in the summer often cutting several square mile fields of grass. The result is to gather these 1200 pound Bales into piles. “Hay stacks” literally or more precisely, Stacked Round Bales. This corral is secure keeping cattle away from the feast until I wish them to have it. I’ve seen some fairy prodigious heaps of grass before. Large Tractors with grapple buckets pile these three high. Green Grass now…. What remains is going to be garden top mulch this year…. Nice Twilight color cast in this deeply involved sky..
When the first settlers broke ground here, they stayed in tents for the first three years before they built a house in 1911. This corral wasn’t even a dream at that time. In 1964 a HUGE building project brought upon by an oil discovery deep under the dinosaur fossils I find on the surface here. Part of that project was to bulldoze a 10 acre corral system into the side of a hill. At one time, this was part of a very uneven surface. Heavy Equipment made short work of that though at a price.
That project of clearing ground for this pad started. Included was this corral system adjacent to a foot ball field sized roping barn. This Corral/ Pad ended up roughly level. Literally notched into a big hill . The rocks and sediment bulldozed from the hill as a road cut on a highway. This “dirt” distributed around was old river sands so the drainage is pretty good now… This eliminated the original/natural contours and flattening out the “pad”. I understand that work alone cost 50,000 dollars to move all that dirt.
You can tell how successful a ranch is by it’s barns, not by the house on it. 😜😜
A couple of the ranches Long horn Mom’s were hanging out near the back gate for this Corriente’ Longhorn Twilight the other evening. I had already returned from a few hours of photography out in the backcountry and was “winding down” ready to quit for the day. Then this happened.
I find that Light worthy of trapping occurs when it does and you have to be there. I was, it was and I did 📸📸 Alpenglow is always worth watching/photographing…
Exotic Cattle: Corriente’
The Corriente’ Long Horn are a Spanish breed originally bred for the harsh conditions in the northern Spanish Pyrenees Mountains. They are smaller than our modern hybrids and pure breeds. They are also hardier, easier care for (as they pretty much take care of themselves). Add some basic yearly care (shots etc), some salt blocks and some magnesium lick in the spring when the rocket fuel (green grass) starts growing. Other than that, they paw the snow like Tonka to find grass and can easily handle a normal winter up here without additional feeding. Our herd mooches off the Angus herds feeding of course given the opportunity but they have gone some winters on their own. All did just fine and had wonderful calves in the spring those years. Tough cattle! 😲
We raise them of course to sell to local ranches that like to lasso the calves as that is an active sport here in cowboy country because you make more money than raising them for beef lolol. (Actually it’s just a better arrangement. A lot of places raise their own. Bulls are problematic from them though as they tend to just walk through fences and try to breed with your angus herd…. Not good lol.
Like most Cowboy sports… Roping is a sport that has a real life application as cowboys often have to rope cattle from horseback locally. I’m sure pretty much daily within a 20 mile circle from this ranch and am NOT a cowboy…. This is still old west cattle country in many ways.
This White Tail Deer doe was literally moving out. Running with a small group racing across the road in front of my truck. Caught here just as she came over the road hump to run into the compression of the ditch. The physics of this moment caused my eyes to widen. I’d be plowing into the far bank of the ditch…. Not this little gal…
Seeing the situation develop ahead of time, I managed to pull a 45 degree turn in the road while stopping. This gave my lens a clear field of view to the group. Having only a few seconds, I’m known to have cameras pre-set up for the lighting of the moment. This was very early in the morning just a few minutes after the sun cleared the high ridge over my right shoulder.
Whitetail turn this wonderful light tan color in the spring. The shedding of their winter fur is mostly over and a silky look is the rule for healthy animals. I really don’t see a lot of Whitetail up here. I seldom can get close to them as they are WAY spookier than Mule Deer. I’ve heard that when Whitetail move into an area, the Mule Deer move out. I see the Whitetail leave each winter migrating to lower climates in the drainage. The Mule Deer overwinter in this high ridge grass prairie having the whole ranch to themselves for 7 months of the year.
It takes most folks a second or two to orient themselves and figure out what’s going on here. This kind of really up close and personal capture is not all that easy in my experience. No matter how you maneuver, the mother cow will turn to face you. The calf follows of course. Pivoting when ever she felt I had a clear window to her calf to hide it on the other side of it’s body. There is no familiarity with new mothers. They don’t care who you are, they don’t like you much. These cattle get a little frisky eating that rocket fuel called green grass early in the spring. The hormones are flowing full through the flood gates and calves are dropping out every day somewhere near by it seems.
I believe this is the ONLY position you could actually get into the “action” zone of this capture. From the other side, you couldn’t see the cafeteria, from the rear you’ve got….. well the rear…. Can’t see the calf for the mothers legs back from that angle. I got really lucky on this as I was “circling” around her from about 80 feet out, she kept turning then for what ever reason… stopped for a few seconds. Click 📷📷
This is not the neatest of processes. I’ve seen these calve’s faces COVERED with dried milk. Soaked with wet milk too lol. Mom doesn’t have a handy towel to wipe her baby down lol.
Jumping into my photo, “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill provides a close for this “Close / Far” perspective
Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘🤘📸 Don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this…. 👀
Gotta love Yellow/golden Alpenglow. A real color scheme as I experienced the scene. My photographic technique is to properly expose the highlights and worry about the shadow details later. I wasn’t so concerned with the landscape on this capture. The Bighorns look pretty close in this image. But its taken by a 1200mm lens, this give the appearance of “SLIGHTLY” zoomed in. Resulting that the Big Horns look huge, way larger than they are in real life/naked eye. Those “hills” on the far right frame are 130 miles from the camera. They are also 13,000 feet tall ranking aside some of the highest mountains in Wyoming. The area of horizon can be covered by your thumb at an arms length.
The Big Horn Mountains are indeed distant from “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. Sneaky “randomly” photobombs my landscapes. He and his big Brother “Re Pete” are both living here on ranch. Of course they are hard core publicity seekers often managing to zip into my frames. In full disclosure I have no control over their actions. The only place I can get away from them is in the timber where they can’t follow 😜😜😜📷. (This is a years long narrative if your new to my world) Satire and all that.
Enjoy your “time off”, make the best of it you can. I’ve been working every day as hard as ever up here in the middle of nowhere. Be safe all.
It took me this long to get to this buried in a “to do” folder lolol. With “Turtle Butte” looking on at the scene. Me maneuvering around trying to get the angle on this totally ice covered landscape. Each twig, each sprig of grass was covered. The sunrise was “dramatic” to say the least with the “Wheel of the Year” Spinning under my feet.
I try to be in tune with the cycles of the Sun and the Earth. It is part of the job up here to connect on an intellectual level with the physics, “the Calculus” and the rest of the science of the scene. I am VERY earth centric and live with the sunsets and sunrises by necessity of chasing the light.
Opportunity tends to flitter away as it is prone to. I try my best to be aware of the sun’s progression north and south. Awareness of what’s coming can guide you to those hidden areas of celestial magic that present themselves.
On the horizons during it’s annual migration back and forth, the equinox aligns the rising and setting sun with an east west orientation. Here a straight east – west barbed wire fence creates a visual tunnel to take your eye to the focal point of the image. The sun or it’s reflection in the ice. . The old cedar post has seen many generations of cowboys and fence mending folks on ATV or pickup truck.
Close far perspective:
Frost on the wire…I totally am into close detail in the foreground in low light.. I get so excited about such simple things anymore. It’s the result of living in this remote place I keep saying. Humans are generalists when they look at a scene. I tend to look at separate components of an image for their own merit and attempt to combine multiple components when ever possible in my work. Multiple “heros” are always my pursuit for a better composition. 📸
The mist over the water in this remote backcountry wetland was wafting slowly with the below freezing breeze above. This mid-spring Wyotana wetland capture was taken right as the sun cracked over the far ridge to the east shadowing this ground about 15 minutes longer than sunrise. Sunrise time depends on if the horizon is above you topographically or not lolol.
A snowy/frosty/blowy storm came through after a week of thawing weather melted most ice on local ponds. Rime Snow coated most exposed objects but the mist from the water definitely hoar frosted the far trees totally. Wind blowing that mist that refroze on the trees in the distance. I probably should have taken a walk over to those trees with a few good cameras but the aforementioned breeze with below freezing weather dissuaded me. Wind Chill cutting through the cracks in my cold armor is always a consideration in cold weather.
I see much wildlife in and around these lakes but they were no where to be seen this frosty morning. I suspect they were bedded down somewhere close by staying out of the cold breeze. Sheltered (lower) areas like this are an oasis from the blowing and drifting usually. The trees and topography “helping” with the natural wind break. A source of open water in places due to the spring fed nature of the lakes, many local animals winter over here.
Spring in Wyotana is a fleeting season. I think it was on a thursday last year. Winter usually lasts until May 15, then it’s green season. Green season is variable depending on the rains of course but Spring…. it’s usually about a day long. 🤔😜📷
Location: Near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
WOW, I see a lot of lit up skies. This was a good one…A real color scheme as I experienced the scene. My photographic technique is to properly expose the highlights and worry about the shadow details later. I wasn’t so concerned with the landscape on this capture. The skies gradient from yellow to red is amazing to experience live thusly stealing my total attention.
I never know for sure how a twilight show is going to turn out. Overcast skies tend to be the best shows but there has to be a window from the sun to the under deck of the cloud layers. No window due to clouds blocking light equals no color. The reds and oranges you see here are the result of only those long wavelengths making it through the hundreds of miles of atmosphere. Smoke or moisture in the air can increase the effect. I’ve seen these skies so red that the color cast from the sky makes the snow purple. I have several photographic timelines of even more intense skies. This one ranks right up there with the some of the best full coverage skies.
“Sneaky Pete” the Windmill and his big Brother “Re Pete” are both living here on ranch. Of course they are hard core publicity seekers often managing to zip into my frames. In full disclosure I have no control over their actions. The only place I can get away from them is in the timber where they can’t follow 😜😜😜📷. (This is a years long narrative if your new to my world) Satire and all that.
Oh the history… Deep in the backcountry of Wyotana, is this old tin covered shack. It was used for many decades. From as early as 1900 some structures survive the years intact out here if the windows remain. Windows generally keep everything wild that might decide to overnight out. Cattle Pressure usually destroys windows in abandoned structure UNLESS they are in a fenced in an enclosure or corral area surrounded by other buildings. This on an abandoned homestead where the main house burned many years ago. It is indeed protected from cattle pressure.
This bunk house housed many hired hands over the years. All working on the larger ranch that used to head quarter at this site. Families came and went with the turning of the calendar. Generations perhaps of cowboys ‘passing through’ on their life journey. Father and son partnering, time passes, as eventually do the keys to the door. The number of boots passing that door must have been countless. Lives long since past. The poker games on the only table. The frost on the window ghosting one of the many hands passed with Aces and Eights. None of us has the perspective of this surviving relic of a past age. But perhaps to be a future alternative to the reality of todays world. We might all circle back to that life again.
Live in “interesting times” :
Maybe boring is better but change is of the essence wafting in the breeze. Not to worry as change has always been part of our existence here. It is as certain as life itself. When we become complacent and “used” to our lives, expect the unexpected. Things sneak up on you otherwise. Suddenly everything your “used” to changes. Then we reflect our thoughts to the stability of the old ways and realize that is where we belong. It is after all where we all came from.
I’m thinking I’m going to start practicing some more 1880’s technology than I already play with…. 🤔
Oh… the image…. Wonderful Alpenglow lights the background on an icy/snowy/frosty winter like spring morning. I love prodigious Alpenglow gradients during late civil twilight ❤️
Location: “Wyotana”, The Montana/Wyoming borderlands…
4 Deer, 3 Buttes, 2 Geese and 1 Winter Day in 2019 all got together for this family image.
The 4 Deer were minding their own business looking for tasty morsels in the stubble of the hay field. Food is the deers main concern. This followed closely by the hunt for open/moving water. Just 2 miles east of here, there is no ground water worth speaking of. Geology determines where we live…. No shallow water of as the geology under ground turns from Dinosaur Beach under my feet to impermeable Ocean shales. (Sharks Teeth and Cretaceous Reptiles/Cephalopods) ) . This ground though is sub-irrigated by that Cretaceous beach sand It actually serves as a HUGE subsurface water aquifer from Canada to New Mexico. Watering Millions with groundwater a little high in total dissolved solids… (usually mixed with other water). It outcrops and recharges here albeit slowly. (Fox Hill Sandstone.) Makes wonderful prairie land all those minerals AND water wicking up from below.
3 Missouri Buttes, volcanic conduits all punched up through all these older Dinosaur age sediments 40.5 million years ago. The Cretaceous They are a fixture peering south from northern Crook County Wyoming. Taken a few feet from the MT/WY border. Geologists see deeper than the surface of things of their mind. 👀⚒
2 Canada Geese overnighted on that hay stack. They were sleeping as I pulled up. Took a second to align this composition. What a bunch of characters all. I personally have never seen geese on a hay stack before but I don’t have a lot of hay stacks about my place.
On Wyotana Backroads.
Location: Montana/Wyoming border (Wyotana) , northern most Crook County Wyoming, southern most Powder River County Montana looking south.
Blue is a rare color scheme from my cameras. I don’t work blue skies very often mid day . Most nights around the solstice (as here) are brightly colored. IT was an odd night. But the wind was dead calm. I thought that a trip a few miles into the backcountry to get to this place would worth the trip.
Backcountry…. I use the term all the time. OK, Here’s how it goes…
This pond is 2 miles of bumpy two track road from the county road passing through a seriously hard wire gate to pass through. Tight bastard it is… The nearest county road is gravel, it is 14 miles then to the closest paved road. It is 70 miles to the nearest 4 way 3 color traffic light but there is a 4 way flashing red light 50 miles away lolol. Back far away from population…. = Backcountry or at least that is my definition. My nearest neighbor is about 4 miles away. This spot is right at about 200 yards from the Montana/Wyoming Border and it has a bit of both states in the Image as do most of my photos.
The Dam was built by cowboys probably 100 years ago. Located directly on the Miles City to Newcastle Cattle Drive Route, many a herd over nighted at this spot historically. Wetlands are rare this high up the ridge. The crack in the earth that that lets the aquifer leak into this puddle is hundreds of feet deep into the Fox Hill Formation (The Beach sand of the Dinosaurs). I’m still looking for a fossil beach umbrella…..😜
Community Backcountry Meeting . (a very green Spring day 2019)
I came upon an obviously clandestine meeting in the backcountry. I saw them all simultaneously stop their discussion and look up at me. They were busy all before I showed up past some invisible line in the sand. Once I crossed that, the chatting stopped and all looked at me. I probably tripped some remote sensor. I understand that these guys are all about information sharing. Momma Pronghorn and her yearling were catching up on all the news from “up north” The Geese may have been raised around here or just in transit. They didn’t mention the specifics of their travel to me. I’m sure they got back to the gossip right after my passing. 😜
The Canada Geese get around thousands of miles while the Pronghorn Migrate 30 miles south to winter. The Thunderbasin National Grasslands are their winter range. Come Spring they head out in all directions. I suspect they head back to where they were born but I may be wrong. The Geese sure return to their birth place after migration. It’s all about networking I suspect…..
On a Personal Note:…..
I personally think they were talking about how empty the roads/airways were with all the humans bugging in. 👀
We hope you are all isolating yourselves for at least a full two weeks. Let’s slow the peak case load and spread that peak over a longer period. The trenches of this are at the hospitals. It’s up to us to keep healthy long enough so the case load doesn’t totally collapse the system. If the rest of the country is going through the motions of trying to save ourselves and the medical systems from total collapse, we’re going to have to go along. Please young people, isolate yourself, use bandwidth and play video games. Keep social isolation rules. Keep this stuff from spreading.
There are several families living in our compound here at the Bliss DInosaur Ranch. We all keep separate from each other for probably the next month and two weeks MORE IF anyone has to go to town. I’m going to miss fresh milk but powdered will just have to do. We contact UPS or Fed Ex with gloves on. Lysol things we have to look at fast, the rest of the mail can sit for a week or so. Let any bad bugs die in the dry UV rich desert we have here. Too windy to spread it out in the sun…… Wash your hands out there in the world folks.
This is indeed what a flat tire looked like 100 years ago. This old solder is tied along a fenceline high in the backcountry I suspect it’s 1930 vintage or before. The cattle every year rub on this wheel. Over the years this old wagon has had thousands of cattle rub and scratch on it. Wood rots very slowly here with 50 to 100 year old items like this still just looking like barn wood. Steel however will last a very long time.
I’m not sure what happened in the history of this device but I suspect the wagon it was supporting was overloaded and a rock appeared to start the dimple in the wheel. Once started the collapse cascaded and stopped the wagon in it’s tracks. This particular wheel was about 5 miles away from the nearest general store of the era so this might have not been a terrible thing. I suspect the 5 mile walk must have occurred in nice weather without wind, rain or snow to hinder the now on foot traveler to get help. There was no AAA tire service to come fix the rig either. No cell Phone, no landline phone, no radio. Word of mouth carried by hoof was the high technology of the day in this remote backcountry.
The red light from the JUST rising sun over my right shoulder is bouncing back off the projector screen the hoar frost on the trees provides. This is a common color I see when the “Belt of Venus” pink light comes down on the high ridge tops.
These 2 month old Pronghorn fawns were “up the hill” from my position. There were 5 adults and 8 fawns in a “nursery”. Adults often care for others fawns cooperatively. This the third capture finished from that encounter last spring. They were quite close when I caught these three moving out. A full frame high resolution capture taken from out the window of my Jeep Grand Cherokee (At that time). . I had been watching the group on a hill top 300 yards away for a while. They all ran toward me in an opportunity of a lifetime. I have a dozen images from this close encounter.
The vehicle obviously blended into the background as a non-threatening thing to them. When I accidentally drive into what I consider a group of pronghorn’s “uncomfortable zone”, I stop and start driving like a grazing animal would move. Stop, stay there a while. Start and move 10 feet stop for a while, rinse and repeat that process until I get into reasonable camera range. Say 15 minutes.. and it always doesn’t work…
I had an uphill shot to the group. Suddenly ALL the fawns took off running at the same time while the 3 doe babysitters didn’t flinch. Something startled them but not the adults. This group ran by my Jeep within 20 yards. Now could get inside groups of deer several times a day using this technique but not too often Pronghorns.
If you ask anybody which end of the Pronghorn you usually get the picture of, it’s not usually the front end. I’m thinking I have 2 other encounters were the animals were running at me. One time I was almost run over by a Pronghorn by accident. I was JUST over a ridges lip standing in a cattle trail by a fence (a natural funnel). He didn’t see me running up the other side until he crested the ridge maybe 10 feet behind me. I had a wide camera and did get that encounter too lolol. Spun and caught them running by my rig. Their (2 animals) hoofs threw dirt at me with their turn to avoid me. Almost a head on collision in the middle of nowhere. I’ve never wanted to collide with a Pronghorn at speed lolol. I’ll dig out that photo soon.
I had a lot of “conversations” with “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. He is now famous (in his mind). Even though he is a “country innocent”, he is taking on habits of the young “indestructables” among us. 👅. He once gave up smoking years ago but somehow. Somehow he got all the gear to vape. Caught on camera here as he snuck up the hill to catch a “smoke” thinking that no one could see him. Telephotos have special powers that he is unaware of obviously 😜👀🤘
Now it is a Windmill Weekday and Windmill Junkies must Unite! I’m worried now about “Sneaky’s” general health and well being. What is a good friend to do when someone develops a “habit”. I might have to do an intervention of some kind. Poor “Sneaky Pete.
Boy I miss summer here in mid-winter. We are dead center of ice/mud/ice/mud season. We need 4 inches of snow a week with melts on the weekend every week till mid-may. I hereby formally make a request for such weather as long as the winds are kept calm for the baby wildlife and livestock populations that will start appearing in the next few months here in the high ridges of the area. For that fact here we go again with the cycle of “rebirth” that is the spring. We’ve made it past what is supposed to be the worst of the winter . This period of wet soil over frozen frost line saturates the upper crust. Daily thaw, freeze cycles churn and break down cobbles into pebbles, pebbles into sand, then silt, clay finally. My problem with this is the mud keeps me out of the backcountry.😔📸
Layers of landscape are always fun to find. The sun is so bright here that it overwhelms any light from the silhouetted areas.
Satire: The veiled sky three miles out into the backcountry here at “Re Pete’s” (the windmill’s) territory. He roams open country and does his best to photobomb my landscapes. Sometimes the only way I can get away is to go back in the timber. Windmills can’t follow you back in the Timber with those sail in the way. I no control over their actions 😜😜
Windmill Weekend (Windmill Junkies Unite). 🤛🤘 But don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this.
Apologies: I don’t take as many windmill photos in the winter now that snow is covering many of my paths. Mud keeps me off the trails so as to not destroy them. We had several inches of blowy snow yesterday up on the ridges. Froze then melted off in the afternoon resulting in more mud and soupy soil frozen below, wet above . My rig (Ford Raptor), can easily do mud but I haven’t gotten it into the gumbo yet. I would only do so by accident of course as Gumbo (Bentonitic mud from clays derived from geologically processed volcanic ash. ) will stick a bulldozer let alone a baja truck no matter how well built.
In a few more years, I’ll be showing you images with branch shadow details with the full sunset behind . Cameras will then exceed our eyes abilities within the decade would be my prediction. Dynamic Range of camera versus eyes is a good google search.
Deer Watching Pronghorn Crossing (Headline in any rural newspaper as it’s pretty quiet up here)
With several things going on in this mid-summer capture, you might focus on the Pronghorn diving under the three wire fence. The highlight on which are as bright as I’ve seen lol. It was just the perfect angle. I’m parked about 300 yards down the road. The mother and two fawns were in a hurry to leave my proximity as I just had come to a stop. Pronghorn’s tend to move when you stop. Changes in motion trigger them to move in response as I see it. If your still all the time or moving all the time, your less likely to spook them. Vehicle photography of Pronghorn is much easier than on foot lolol. These American native long distance relative of the giraffe does not appreciate the human form (maybe it’s just me”…😜)
So… Pronghorn almost always go under fences. I read once where they can jump 15 feet high. (I have not see this). I have however seen them go 6 feet. I have less than 10 images of Pronghorn Jumping Fences. I have many more of them going under fences. 📸
This is however, the ONLY image I have of a doe deer “Watching the Technique” clearly displayed here used by countless generations of Pronghorn. Deer of course tend to jump fences.
I can’t tell you how much I want summer back. As I post this midwinter, there is either mud or ice in the backcountry. Iced / melted then frozen snow drifts are really bumpy. Mud is a problem this time of yearI try not to exacerbate by making ruts with my Raptor.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
Done in the camera (not a crop), I call this what I consider a “formally” framed image.👀 I took a great deal of precious time to precisely alight that gate with the edge of the frame. Hard to do with the angle I had to acquire to line up the banded cloud veiled moon. Camera lens distortion and other laws of physics applied. It was pretty dark too I point out as the sun hasn’t risen just yet that morning. Taken later in the fall after the first snow. All melted in this particular capture. It’s all covered by the white stuff at the time I post this in early March 2020.
There are only a few days a month when the full moon is still up while there is enough light to capture a landscape. A significant portion of those morning have obscured (as best) views of the setting moon. If I get one night a month where I get the full moon floating over illuminated landscapes, I consider myself lucky. What I do with that morning and where I choose to set up is not entirely random I point out. Knowing WHERE the moon is going to set or rise becomes relevant to the discussion when your ready to go out the door with a box o’ cameras. Compass directions of moon/sun set and rise are handy out in the backcountry. The cyclical changes in the orbits of the moon changes where it sets. As the seasonal migration of the sun north and south are variables.
For a 30 (ish) Horse Power Tractor, this 1939 International “M” Tractor had 270,000 made by 1954. It only weight 5400 pounds and has a 4.1 liter gasoline engine. This one runs if I put gas in the tank and hit the starter. It needs new rubber. This is out back near our corral system, in our yard but way off the beaten path. (We live in a 10 acre fenced in deer resistant compound ).
We keep a few big bales of hay around in case we actually have to feed our small herd of Corriente Cattle. They generally don’t need extra food but will happily take it lolol. The vistas from our homestead are BIG to the south west with 130 mile view when conditions permit. We have way more snow than the low lands we overlook. It’s a stark difference our front yard versus 300 feet lower topographically down by the rivers. No or little snow down there which is not a good thing. I consider the local snow cover as light this year. (March 3, 2020).
Mostly multigenerationally fixed / patched fences, old ranches have complex Corrals lolol. Those fences take a LOT of cow pressure particularly near the alleys. A 1500 pound bull pushing hard will be defined as “Cow Pressure”. . You might get 30 years of reliability, if a corral is made of treated wood posts. Corrals made of steel, it lasts a century or two. Oil Well pipe and sucker roads, cables, panels, wire panels, you name it are part of the fixes. Repurposed coal mine rubber belts (4 – 6 feet wide) for alleys. I have seen a host of other materials incorporated into many corrals. Free(ish) fencing is very popular. I’m seeing 4 different types of fences just in this photo. There are dozens of fencing generations in this grandfathered 80 year old corral system. Some originally built about the same time as this Antique Tractor.